Thorpe Arnold lost the toss on the opening day of the season and were asked to bat by Rothley Park.
Early trouble soon followed as Exton and Clark both missed straight ones and Thorpe were 5-2 after seven balls.
Hickman came in at four, joining captain Gillett at three, and the pair looked to steady the ship.
Rothley bowled well throughout, quickly learning that attacking the stumps made strokeplay difficult.
But Hickman and Gillett dug in and batted to drinks without any further problems.
The partnership soon passed the 100 mark as Gillett reached his first 50 of the year. After putting on more than 130 for the third wicket, the captain was the next to go for 72.
Hickman also soon passed his 50 with another mature knock from the young cricketer, but he fell shortly after for 52.
Thorpe’s middle order was then tasked with scoring a run-a-ball to get somewhere near 200 and set a defendable target, but regular wickets fell as Rothley pegged them back.
Garner cleared the ropes late on, but the home side could only muster 180.
Yet the home side felt it was a competitive total and the team was in good spirits at tea.
But then came Charles Dagnall. The former Leicestershire CCC man opened the batting and soon got going, flaying the ball to all corners of the ground.
Despite giving chances he went through to 50 with the team total only on 63.
Dagnall rushed to 77 before Clark removed him after skying a catch to Gillett running back from slip.
His partner Stevens then took over and played well for his unbeaten 61, while Rothley’s overseas player also cleared the ropes several times as the visitors took the opening day spoils.
Thorpe travel to Kegworth on Saturday (12.30pm start) looking to pick up an early victory to kickstart their campaign.